Who Put the “Pro” in Procrastination? Thoughts about Time-management for Artists

©George Mattei

©George Mattei

by Oliver Wetter

I never was a procrastinator, in fact; things couldn’t go faster for me.

Today I look calm on the outside but my real impetus is to get things done and in the most effective way possible.

I can say this now, but this self-awareness came after a long journey and experience of being disappointed with our education, society and the system as a whole.

In years when I worked on the assembly line and try to fit into the 8-to-5 job, this restlessness made me ill, literally and physically. I had a hard time to become mentally calm, to find my inner pace and balance.

Since 2009 I work freelance and since 2010 we have a daughter, and I have never been so busy and never been so calm at once, how is that?

This blog post is about my personal experience on how to manage time more effective and still having fun. Chances are that you – the reader – find something useful in it.

What is Time?

For me, time is valuable, a precious gift that was given to me from my parents, it probably lasts the lifetime of an average human and is limited to just one. I embrace what I can do in this time and I´m thankful that I´m healthy enough to enjoy and share my time with like-minded people.

Quality Time or Waste?

©Tim O'Brien

©Tim O’Brien

I found that quality time is for every person something different, for me it is time to be with loved ones as also being with my artist self and create art for me or others.

Marketing and self promotion was never a thing I loved, but it is valuable to a business like a compass to a hiker, I learned to embrace these tasks much more. And so I enjoy interacting with fellow artists and clients.

Earlier in my life I had this feeling that 8 hours of my day were simply wasted. Now there are at least 12 hours a day that I enjoy.

Time-Thieves and Things that Seriously Steal your Time

There is something that I observed for quite a while and found no workaround except for keeping my eyes open all the time. For what you ask? For things or persons who steal your time. It’s obvious that we waste a lot of time on friends who we thought were friends but when we are in need they don´t care, the client who wants the best thing but won´t pay anything, technical things that always break, a car that only works half the time… you get the idea.

It’s not only the time we waste on such things, but also a waste of emotional labor that would have been better applied to people around us who deserve it.

Call them vampires, they sit everywhere lurking and waiting for a victim to turn to. Just be no victim.

The Myth of Multitasking

©Alicia Buelow

©Alicia Buelow

You’ve heard of that myth that women can better multitask than men, it’s not true, at least it is not recommended at all.

If you have a hands-free-set, you can do a phone call and make household work or drive a car while doing so. That is because speaking, listening and doing routine work like drawing or household work is mundane enough to use less brain power. As soon as our capacity of things we do simultaneously is challenging our brain, we loose information/memory. You can also hear a useful E-book or a podcast while working on a computer instead of music this is both valuable and time-saving. But don´t try writing an email and listening to your wife, just don´t do it.

Online = Procrastination?

©Garth Glazier

©Garth Glazier

No not really, at least for me.

I sure use Twitter and Facebook and this blog, but I see updating these as a gift and duty to give the community something back. A contribution if you want so.

Sure, if you have a deadline approaching and feel tied to twitter or play games instead, than it can be a serious problem, one that should be solved before it is too late.
Changing habits by making the things you have to do easier is a good trick. Let´s say you want to do more workout, figure out one easy to do exercise that only costs a minute or two. From there it is easier to do something more.

The TIA -“Think-In-Advance” Approach

©Tim Bower

©Tim Bower

I use to be a pragmatic all my time, so it comes naturally for me to think in advance whenever I have to go my route or one way. Taking the used coffee-mug, the empty water bottle and the laptop down into the kitchen after waking up, to fill the dishwasher, the bag for empty bottles and to read my news, then, time is saved and it is simple as that. Multiply these over 5 times a day, a week, a month and a year, you can guess how much time can be saved for important things.

Here is a list of everyday things you can do to save time for important things:

  • First of all: learn to set priorities, otherwise the fancy stuff listed below isn´t going to work
  • If you can´t solve a problem at first, get away from it, and use the “anger-time” for something useful (exercise for example), get back to it at a later time with a fresh pair of eyes and mindset.
  • Try to get the right friends, clients, roommates, partners, etc it saves a huge amount of time.
  • Get the right mindset, that helps you turn down the lizard-brain and achieve your goals.
  • Learn about the GTD -(Get Things Done) method
  • Think (not plan!) eventualities ahead as far as possible, for the next hour, for the next day and so on
  • Write sticky notes and don´t read them, do the things so you can throw the notes away after the “things-are-done
  • Do multitasking, wherever possible and whenever no quality or security has to suffer through it
  • Avoid time-thieves, bloodsuckers, vampires and time-robbing things that break all the time, buy stuff that works, not breaks, even if it is more expensive, it will save you time.
  • Don´t drive faster, plan ahead and take the fastest route instead.
  • Keep your mail-inbox clean, make use of the GTD method and use an  e-mail program that supports smart inbox handling like Gmail for example
  • Don´t work just hard, and also don´t just work smart. Work smarter and harder and also put emotional labor in everything you do.
  • Don´t do everything alone, learn to delegate and to outsource tasks you can assign to someone else
  • Don´t procrastinate and thrash yourself at the end of a project, do it in advance or at the beginning
  • Find a job that is fun to do and you never have to work a single day in your life (quoted)
  • Be rather active than passive (limit television for example) a passive lifestyle is counterproductive and unhealthy too
  • Shop online if the city is crowded and parking a horror
  • Eliminate distractions, if necessary, use a tool for computer related work that helps you to focus better
  • Be patient and forget about sent letters, this is the key to stay calm while doing all the things above

Below you find some valuable sources about time-mangement for freelancers, I highly recommend also the video from Randy Pausch about time-management, I promise these are the best spent 70 minutes about that topic ever.

http://freelancefolder.com/how-to-get-more-work-done-in-less-time/

http://business.tutsplus.com/articles/10-ways-to-eliminate-distractions–fsw-104

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/how-to-multitask.html

http://lifehacker.com/398049/get-productive-with-social-media-and-stay-sane

http://workawesome.com/productivity/the-8020-rule-revisited/

Feel free to comment if you have any additional suggestions or share your own experience about that topic.What is time for you, or how do you solve problems regarding work, freelancing and time?

Contributed by Illustrator Oliver Wetter

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